02 Dec 12/2/18 “Lessons From Samson”
I want to talk to you this morning from the book of Judges. If you have your Bibles, turn to Judges 16:16 for “Lessons from Samson.” And in case you’re thinking, “Well, you’re just doing that because you don’t have a sermon ready for today,” well, I had today’s sermon ready days ago, on the book of Proverbs, all nice and neat and ready to be printed. But I have to listen, obviously, to those promptings of the Holy Spirit, and usually God will put something on my heart that’s weighty. Until I deal with it, that weight is not lifted, and that weight was “what should I do with it this morning?”
But the main title is “Surviving the Anointing.” I don’t know how many of you are aware of this, but this could be a good lesson this morning on this word anointing. What do you think of when you hear that word? Because some people think, “Oh, here he goes again.” You know, we think of hyper-Pentecostals or the charismatics, and anointing, anointing, anointing, anointing. Are you aware that the name of Christ means “anointed one”? The biblical definition of anointing is God has put His Spirit on a person for a purpose—anointing. To be anointed of God, that’s a high calling; it’s a very good calling. But here’s what I don’t think you are aware of. First John 2:20 says that all true believers have an anointing from the Holy One. So if you are a believer this morning, you believe in Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit in you, I’ve come to serve notice on you that you have an anointing of God to do something for God.
Many people think, “Well, the pastor has to have anointing.” I think the businessman and the dad need one just as much. And the single mom, the mother who is working, they need an anointing, because we tend to elevate, and God doesn’t elevate. He’s no respecter of persons. What He’s called another person to do is no different than what He’s called me to do. So what happens is, as the anointing of God comes upon your life, the Holy Spirit is given rule and reign in your life. I believe the more anointed you will be is measured by the degree you give up your own will and submit to the will of the Holy Spirit, because when you submit to the work of the Holy Spirit, and you say, “God, whatever you want to do,” watch out, because that anointing comes upon you in a very strong way. It’s God calling you to do something.
Here’s basically what the anointing does. You are called to be fruitful. You are called to be fruitful. Now I know many of you came in this morning not feeling that way. That’s why I’m so happy that <Bree?> said that about that song, “Yes, I will.” What she said, I don’t know if you realize it, is absolutely biblical and correct. “I will worship you regardless of how I feel. I will worship you regardless of the darkest valleys.” Most people are hindered in worship, even this morning, because they’re fighting on the way to church. Or they watched a bunch of garbage last night, and they don’t wake up with the fire of God. They’re barely dragging in. How can I drive two hours to Disneyland with my kids, and it’s perfect peace, but I can’t get fifteen minutes over that mountain? Disturbing that peace, what we’re watching at night, what we’re viewing in the morning, our attitudes, and we come in here handcuffed. It’s no secret that, I don’t know, [there were] twenty-five people here this morning for morning worship? I see them all, and they’re worshiping. Why? Because they’ve been saturated in the presence of God. The anointing, that presence of God. And you can tell your flesh, “You will submit. You will submit. Yes, I will worship Him.”
You’re to be fruitful, but you’re also to be a fighter. You will fight. When the anointing is on you, as it is with all believers who surrender to the work of God, you will become a fighter. We don’t like that, do we? But it kind of parallels with the United States and people who say, “Well, I don’t want to get involved.” Too bad, you’re already involved. Christians say that. “I don’t want to get involved. I just want to be a Secret Service Christian, and I just want to come to church, and just I don’t want that.” Too late. You’re already involved. You’re in the fight. If you are a child of God, you are against the works of the enemy, and you are in a fight for your soul, for your families, for your children. You are in a fight.
Fast forward now. I’m not going to talk about the whole life of Samson, but [let’s start in] Judges 16:16. And most know, but I shouldn’t assume that everyone knows, Samson was a mighty man of God. Pretty much anyone has heard of Samson who knows anything about the Bible, even unbelievers. They know about Samson, they know about Delilah, they know the story. Samson was anointed by God to fulfill a mission, to deliver God’s people from bondage. God anointed that person, even from his mother’s womb. She took a Nazirite vow. This is important, because you have to understand there was a consecration on Samson’s life. He was consecrated because God said, “I’m going to call you to do something. That means you have to be consecrated. You have to be set apart.”
My challenge for you this morning is, is that your call as well? That’s why the church shouldn’t look like the world. There’s a difference. Because of this anointing upon my life—and your life—I have to be different. There’s a consecration. There’s a setting apart. Because when we set ourselves apart to do God’s work, we’re filled with the spirit of God. When we don’t, and we’re just led astray by the flow of the world, we are not filled with God’s spirit, and you know that’s a miserable place to live, don’t you? That’s why I believe most Christians aren’t fulfilled. They know there’s something more. I hear that a lot: “I know God’s called me to…” and fill in the blank. “But I’ve detoured my destiny. I’m sidetracked.”
I actually took this out this morning, but I think it is relevant because I can’t get it out of my mind. When you are anointed with the Holy Spirit, the world will hate you. The culture will be against you. And people say, “But that’s not true. Everybody loved Jesus.” Try this. Just go somewhere and say, “Did you know Jesus said He’s the only way, the only truth, the only life? You can’t get to God but through Jesus.” You watch what happens. When I read the New Testament (I try to get through it twice a year), I keep coming upon these verses where Jesus rebuked entire cities because they didn’t repent. Oh Chorazin, Bethsaida. If the good works that were done in Tyre and Sidon you were done in you, you would’ve repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes and humility.” So that’s what that was. It was a humbling. He rebuked entire cities. He rebuked religious leaders. Yes, He was a friend of sinners, but He never caved in to sin.
I want to be careful here, and I don’t want to say anything to them because I’m trying to verify it, but just a few days ago, one of our favorite high-profile worship leaders just came out and said, “I don’t know if gay marriage is wrong or homosexuality is wrong.” We sing her songs. What happens? Because these people need to be filled mightily with the spirit of God. The reason there’s so much confusion—“What does the Bible say?” “I don’t know”—is because you’re not spending time in His presence, broken before Him, looking to His Word. Because when you’re filled with the spirit of God, that spirit is a spirit of boldness. It’s authority. They said of Jesus, “No man ever spoke like that man.” What did they mean? The authority, the boldness, to say, “This is wrong, this is right, this is God’s will, this is not,” and from that authority came that boldness. The people said, “He’s not like the other teachers. He speaks with authority and boldness.” So Christian leaders, pastors, whoever you are, spend time in God’s broken prayer closet, being filled with His spirit.
That’s where we find ourselves with Samson. He was, through many trials and setbacks, about ready to go through hell. He meets Delilah, of course, and here’s what happened. “It came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words, and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death” (Judges 16:16). Have you ever been there? I will tell you right now that is one of the tools of the enemy. He will use that—to pester and pressure and pressure and pressure. And then what happens? When he pressures you, he wants you to explode. Do you ever explode in rage? You say, “What happened?” I guarantee you weren’t having a great day. There is a pressuring and pestering.
Then Samson said, “Enough. Enough of this.” Verse 17: “He told her all his heart.” Be careful. Guard your heart. In the multitude of words, sin is not lacking” (Prov. 10:19). So those of you who like to talk a lot, be careful. It can get us in trouble, can’t it?
“No razor,” he said, “has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man” (v. 17). So Samson had this great strength, great strength from God, and I personally believe it wasn’t just the hair. You know, he’s got hair, now he doesn’t. It’s a symbol of consecration. If I remove this symbol of consecration, I will withdraw the spirit of God from me. This is why many people, when they’re caught in sin, the spirit of God has been withdrawn from them—not in the way of Samson (I’m going to explain that in a minute), but it’s actually that the Holy Spirit has been quenched and grieved in them. They lose that anointing. They lose that unction, that power.
Boy, I’ll tell you what. I can tell a difference as sure as night is different from day, when I speak at different places and the spirit of God is not there. Every sentence. It doesn’t happen too much here, but I’m praying, “Lord, just get me out of this. Lord God, fall. Please, Holy Spirit, where are You?” And you’re just going through, and it’s like bricks are falling out of your mouth, and the people are yawning. They’re looking at their watches and phones. And it’s just like, where is the spirit of God, where is that anointing, where is that power? And sometimes it’s because there’s a sense of darkness and of oppression in the whole atmosphere, especially depending on where you speak and where you’re bringing that. I felt that big time at the college when I debated the atheist and spoke about knowing God at the college. You just feel this. But you go, and you take spiritual authority.
Let’s talk about a few things. Pestered. Pestered—to annoy repeatedly, to be pressed and pressured. Did any of you come here this morning feeling that? So far, I’m doing pretty good this week. These aren’t hitting me, but it does sometimes—pestered and pressured.
Surviving the anointing involves knowing who to run to when you are pressured. Knowing who to run to when you are pressured. Okay, here’s why it’s so critical. Most of us run back to what? Sin. When I’m pressured, when you’re pressured, you run back to sin. What is that sin? You fill in the blank. Last week we talked about pornography for some. Anger, addiction, pills, doubt, unbelief. I’m amazed at how many people run back to unbelief and bitterness toward God because of pressure. The very thing you should be running to is the very thing you’re running from. That’s why I believe Samson [caved in.] Here’s what he should have done: “I’m done with you, woman. You are not a benefit to me. We are unequally yoked. We shouldn’t be sleeping together. I’m out of here. I’m fleeing this instead of fueling it.” [But he had] that pestering and that pressure.
I feel it sometimes, the pressure to perform. It happens a lot on Sunday. People will say, “Oh, that was such a great sermon. How are you going to do that again next Sunday?” I have no clue, thank you for pressuring me. But I did learn many years ago that, like I shared earlier, unless God’s spirit moves, it’s pointless. And I’m actually not trying to better myself every single Sunday. That’s impossible, and there’s nothing to better. It’s just you come broken before God, you share what He’s put on your heart, and you let the chips fall where they may. It’s interesting, because somebody will text, and that just happened this week, “Last week’s sermon was I think the best I’ve ever heard.” Well, a month ago somebody said this about this message, and two months ago somebody said the same thing. See, it’s hitting you where your hearts are at. The Holy Spirit is speaking to you at certain areas. That’s why you leave saying, “Oh, that was the best one.” For someone else, it was like, “Well….” My wife will tell me, “Oh, it was all right.” That’s why she asks every time, “What are you speaking on tomorrow?” [I say,] “You’ll find out, because I’m not talking about it. I’m not telling you.”
Proverbs 18:10. This is such a heavy message, I’m glad we’re bringing a little laughter in here because sometimes I have a hard week, and I’ve no friends, close friends. People who used to come here, sit over there, just found out he left his wife—under our watch. Another friend, suicidal, we’ve grown up for years together, can’t get through. Another person leaves his wife and kids. There is no reconciliation. You two are believers—what do you mean there’s no reconciliation? Wake up. The brokenness is all over our nation. The brokenness, broken families, the children, it’s just alarming. Where’s the weeping? Remember, until your prayer becomes a cry, we’re not going to see results. We should be like, “Oh, the burden! What is going on?” This is a serious issue. All these people have not survived the anointing because they’ve caved in when they should be fighting.
Who do you run to when you’re pressured? I like Proverbs 18:10: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous man runs into it and is safe.” As far as a symbol of strength, to us today it would parallel a battleship or the military. You know, you would say, “The name of the Lord is like sitting in between the Navy SEALs,” or “sitting in between the fighter aircraft.” They’re giving the imagery here of the name, just the name of the Lord, is a strong tower. You run into it, and there you are safe. And yes, I will. That’s why that song says, “Yes, I will. I’m going to run to the Lord even when I don’t feel like it.” You’d better get that deep down in your spirit because rarely will you always feel like it. You have to run, and then your feelings catch up. I run to the strong tower, and then my feelings catch up and say, “I’m glad you’re here.” Well, thank you. Where have you been, because you want to take me in the other direction? Come on, the world sings it: This is my fight song. This is my “I’m doing all right song.” Right? Why can’t we say that when it comes to worship? (I know I messed up a line there.) So where do your feet take you in time of despair?
And verse 18, “When Delilah saw that he told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, ‘Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart.’. . . Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him” (vv. 18–19). I often wonder, did Samson really think that would happen? Because you can get so comfortable doing God’s will. You sin—Oh, I didn’t really get caught. I sin, didn’t really get caught. I’m sinning, and it’s not that bad. But did he really know? Because I have a hard time believing that he’s going to tell this lady where his strength really lay, if he really thought . . . He knew she was sneaky. She’s been asking him, prior to this. Or did pride get in the way? It won’t happen to me. I’m God’s man. I’m God’s woman. I’ve been a Christian for twenty years. It won’t happen to me. Be careful, Samson. It can.
Surviving the anointing means that you must guard your heart. You must guard your heart. What does that mean? Well, I’m glad you asked. It means this: “Keep your heart with all diligence,” Proverbs 4:23 says. Keep your heart. “Guard your heart, for out of it flow the issues of life.” Another translation says it is a “wellspring of life.” Everything comes from the heart. It’s not talking about the pumping heart here but the core of who a person is. Our thoughts, our desires, our motivations, our actions must be guarded. That’s where the word guardrails comes from. What are they guarding? Well, they look kind of ugly there on that mountain. What are they guarding? You texting. Guardrails.
So you guard your heart the same way you have these guardrails up. I’m going to be careful, Samson, and not tell people my entire heart. “A fool vents all his feelings” (Prov. 29:11). I’m going to guard my heart. I’m going to use wisdom. I’m not going to be a Chatty Kathy and do all these things. I’m going to guard my heart. I’m not going to cave into this. I’ve put boundaries on my heart. Why don’t you do that anymore like your friends do? Because I’m guarding my heart. That’s one of the steps to how you survive the anointing.
And as we know, anger, pride, and giving into temptation remove the guardrails. Those are the big three we see throughout the Bible and mainly in Samson’s life as well. I love to say this as often as I can, but you’d be amazed at what God does with humility. I don’t know where you’re at this morning, I don’t know what you’re going through, but you would be absolutely amazed to see what God does with humility. To me, I picture this: humility is like this hard piece of clay that has sat out in the sun for weeks, and it’s hard, just as hard as a rock, but humility allows that clay to be softened and put again there on the Potter’s wheel. What I wanted to be, what I wanted to be, this hard, hardness, this rock. Humility allows me to go back on the Potter’s wheel and say, “Okay, son (or daughter), here’s what I want you to be. Would you just submit to the work in the end in the hands of the Potter?” That’s what humility does. The Bible actually says that He resists the proud. God resists the proud. Can you imagine if Samson would’ve humbled himself? “God, I’m getting trapped here.” But He resists the proud, and He gives grace to the humble.
Surviving the anointing means that holiness becomes your daily goal. How often do we talk about holiness here? Quite a bit. But I can’t avoid it on this point of surviving the anointing. David Ravenhill, Leonard Ravenhill’s son, wrote a good book on this—I’ve passed it out before—called Surviving the Anointing. Because there’s a daily attack, there’s a weekly attack, that is coming against what God is doing in your life. That’s what he’s after. If he can’t get your salvation, he’s going to go for your testimony. He’s going to go for your influence. Part of surviving that daily attack is holiness. Here’s the thing we learn from Samson. I told the men yesterday they can tweet this, and so can you (after the service). Sin fascinates, and then it assassinates. That’s how it works. It fascinates you, and then it assassinates you. But holiness keeps up that guard. You cannot defeat your demons if you’re still enjoying their company. See, to survive that anointing, the holiness is the consecration we talked about earlier. My daily walk, your daily walk, there has to be some degree of holiness, and “God, I’m fighting this battle, but I’m staying close to the Shepherd.”
And then verse 20. But let me ask this question. May this be a good time to ponder. Is there any area in your life right now where compromise has entered in? Don’t leave here this morning without laying it at the foot of the cross. It’s interesting. Delilah isn’t described—36/24/36, flowing locks of whatever, eyes piercing. Delilah can be whatever it is that takes you down. Whatever it is that is at you and zapping your strength and pulling at you. That can become Delilah to the believer, pulling them away from what God has called them to do.
Verse 20: “And she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ So he woke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’” No, you won’t. It fascinates, and then it assassinates. I wish I would have written this down; I recommended it before: Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore. He’s with the Southern Baptist denomination. He makes a great point that the demonic realm, demons, aren’t in a hurry. They’ll let you get away with things for a while. And he talks about how cows go to the slaughterhouse. They’re on this nice conveyor belt, they go through this shoot, and it feels just like their mother’s womb, and they’re just in this relaxed state, “This feels wonderful,” until a sharp instrument hits them right between their eyes and kills them. The whole point is, this alluring and this “Oh, see I’ll go out as other times before.”
We can’t confuse God’s patience with His approval. One of the saddest Scriptures I think in all of the Old Testament for an individual is this. The Bible says, “But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.” I wonder how many churches don’t even know that the spirit of the Lord has departed from them. People will go because it’s got great kids’ programs, but is the spirit of God there? Because I don’t consider foosball and a skate park something that’s always great. “But the worship has smoke and all these lights, and they grab this guy from Hollywood, Shane. He’s in a band.” But is the spirit of God there? Is the spirit of the living God in that place? Because that’s just entertainment of men. Do they even know when the spirit of God has departed? Why should church be a cemetery? Answer me that.
- W. Tozer said, “If the Holy Spirit was removed from the early church, 90 percent of the work would have ceased, but if the Holy Spirit is removed from the church today, 90 percent of the work will continue.” That is so true, because we think “Well, if God’s not in it, it will fall apart.” No, it won’t. Just look at Hollywood. You get a good motivational speaker. You can fill a stadium in Texas. You’ll get that. You can have the top musicians. This one’s in a band. This one’s over here.” And people will say, “We need people on our board who are smart-minded businessmen.” No, are they filled the spirit of God? That’s what we want. Are they filled with the spirit of God?
This happens at least twice, I don’t know, once every two months. “You should let such and such speak.” Are they filled with the spirit of God? “Oh yeah, but they’ve got a great story. They’re really gifted.” Do they have God’s spirit, the anointing, the unction, the fire, because that’s how you penetrate the deepest levels of the heart. “He knew not that the spirit of the Lord had departed.” That might be a good question for some of you to ask this morning. Holy Spirit, am I just going through the motions? Has that deep, penetrating work left?
Now here’s the key I need to clarify. In the Old Testament, the spirit of God would come upon Samuel. The spirit of God would come upon Saul. The spirit of God would come upon David. The spirit of God would come upon Elisha. The spirit of God would come upon Samson. The Bible actually says they turned into other men. That’s what happens. When the Holy Spirit of God fills you, you are turned into a different person. What you used to like, you don’t like as much. What you used to prefer, you don’t prefer anymore. Now it’s all about God, and your friends and your family are going to mock you: “Oh, it’s always about God.” Right, because I been turned into another man or woman. I’m filled with the spirit of God.
In the Old Testament, though, God could remove that spirit. Talk about dangerous. Sin would enter, Saul would rebel against God, God would say, “I desire obedience, Saul. Obedience.” “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Sam. 15:23). And the Holy Spirit of God will be removed. God. Can you imagine that? How would you like to be left to yourself? Just turn me over to me. Oh, we should go into prayer right now for that one.
But in the New Testament you’re given the Holy Spirit as a gift. But you can quench and grieve His work. Something I think of often, especially when we make a fire, is you have this roaring fire, right? You can feel the heat. Sometimes you’re back twenty or thirty feet, and you feel it. Brant, your house, right? You feel it in the whole house. And you feel the heat from this, but then as the hours go by, it’s gone. Not necessarily—you can pick around: “Well, there’s a little coal. Oh, yeah, there is a little coal right there. I don’t feel anything.” And that’s where many Christians live. They’ve grieved and quenched the Holy Spirit of God. It’s there, it’s there, but they no longer feel the warmth. They no longer feel that fire.
Let me talk to you for minute who used to feel that fire. Do you remember how it was when everywhere you went you had to witness? It’s just like, “It’s coming out!” And you were just so joyful. Then the enemy begins to wear you down and goes after that anointing. There’s that little ember left. No warmth, no heat, you can’t even see it, but it’s there. What’s it waiting for? It’s waiting for fuel. Just try throwing a little bit of newspaper in there. That’s all the Holy Spirit is looking for. He won’t make us do anything. He waits. He waits, and we throw fuel on that fire, and then God lights us with the spirit of God.
“Then the Philistines took him to put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison” (v. 21). I told you—fascinates, then assassinates. I know some of you have had some serious health issues. I guarantee you’ve never had your eyes gouged out or would know even what that feels like. They would lay the person down. They would get an element that’s like an ice cream scoop or or a pluck, and they would just remove his eyes. What’s the significance? Because now he’s nothing. He can’t see, he can’t do anything.
So his eyes have been removed, and he’s got bronze fetters, which are like handcuffs. He’s bound, and he becomes a grinder at the prison. So he’s walking around like an oxen. He’s walking around this thing, and he’s grinding, whatever it is, the wheat, the barley, whatever that is. He becomes a grinder in the prison. You think you struggle with depression? Try that one out. This mighty man of God, called of God, anointed of God. God told the people, the children of Israel, “I’ve heard your cries. I’m putting Samson, a deliverer, in the womb of this woman. She’s going to take a Nazirite vow, and we’re going to build him, we’re going to strengthen him.” The anointing of God that no one’s ever felt, he slew Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. He was powerful. What happened?
These are wake-up calls. Paul said the Old Testament was given to you as an example that you might not lust after evil things like they lusted. They should be examples to us. You might say, “Shane, well, what is sin?” Well, I came across John Wesley’s journal and what his mom said. I like what she said, so I borrowed it: “Whatever weakens your reasoning, whatever impairs the tenderness of your conscience, whatever obscures your sense of God or takes away your relish for spiritual things; in short, if anything increases the authority of the flesh over the spirit, that to you becomes sin, however good it is in itself.”
I hadn’t thought about that deeply until that last part: whatever increases the authority of the flesh over the spirit is sin. Meaning, whatever builds the flesh and quenches and grieves the spirit of God, that is sin, that is missing the mark, and it will come out in our lives in a negative direction. We see, this is ironic, the parallel here, the enemy targets your eyesight. Did you know that? The enemy targets, not physically obviously, sometimes maybe, for as we get older, we realize it’s an issue. But he targets that spiritual eyesight, because see, when you know where you’re going, not too many people can knock you off track, can they? You know where you’re going. This got me through the early church years. No matter how many negative emails, no matter how many people said, “You can’t start a church on Saturday. You’re too hard. You don’t have any education.” I don’t care what you say, naysayers and taunters, I see what Christ has called me to. I’ve got vision, I’ve got spiritual sight, and come hell or high water, that’s where I’m going. So the enemy is going to knock you off course. He’s going to get rid of your eyes: God, I don’t know, I’m groping around. What have you called me to do? I can’t even lead my family. I don’t know where my direction is, my career. I’m gone. I’ll just sit at home and watch stuff that is perverted and will fill the flesh up with more of the flesh. I don’t know what you’ve called me to do, so now I’m depressed. I’m lazy. I’m discontent. I don’t know.
He goes after that eyesight, that spiritual sight of what God’s called you to do. Well, I don’t know what He’s called me to do. Well, get here in the morning on your face, on the altar. He’ll show you. He’ll show you. Many times we think we’ll just <?> up . There it is. No, no, it’s spending time with God. And like Samson, though you’re grinding at the mill in the prison, as that hair begins to grow back, as the anointing begins to grow back.
Surviving the anointing means you must readjust your focus. You must know when spiritual eyesight is declining. Did you ever go to the optometrist, those of you who wear glasses, what do they do? Adjustments and adjustments. That’s why we have so much time of prayer and worship here, we try to at least anyway. I know people think, “Oh, Westside Christian Fellowship, is that the church that does a lot of worship?” Yeah, that’s the church that does a lot of worship. Maybe that’s why you’re here this morning. Your eyesight needs readjusting and focus. You need to get that calling back. You need to get that burning desire back. You need to get that unction of the Holy Spirit. “Oh, but, Shane, I’m old.” Yeah, but old intercessors are powerful. Powerful.
I realized something. I don’t know who I was reading, maybe E. M. Bounds. I’ve got a whole stack of books because I’m preparing for Wednesday’s message.
Oh, it’s a good intro, a good promotion. Wednesday I’m talking about waiting time is not wasted time. This Wednesday at 6 p.m. Waiting time is not wasted time. We’re considering not even videoing it, not even doing a livestream, and letting people show up. They think they can just sit at home with the kids run around screaming and watch on TV, and that’s just as good. Not even close. So, all the livestreamers out there, come in person. It’s much, much better. You can feel the presence and power of God.
What was my point? Where’d I leave off on that? E. M. Bounds, thank you. This has been profound for me this week. I’ll just share. Maybe it won’t be for you, but he started talk about how our prayers are deathless. That means they don’t die. When that heart stops beating, that felt it, the prayer still lives on for your children. When that mind that conceived it is gone, that prayer still moves the hand of God. Our prayers are deathless. They don’t die with us. We don’t pray to a false god where prayers fall on deaf ears. This is a God who hears your prayers. He hears your cries. He hears your groanings. So get on your face before God and cry out.
“Well, that’s not very manly.” I don’t care anymore. Deuteronomy 28:29. You know Deuteronomy, right, blessings and cursings? This is what comes on a people that are disobedient: “You will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways, but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you.” None to save you. This groping, see, isn’t spiritual eyesight important? What about if God told you, “Here’s what I called you, here’s what I want you to do”? Would that give you a little motivation? But see, you can have that. You can have that, because His will is clear. Men, especially. I talked about that yesterday. God’s called you to lead your family and to be a spiritual leader and to get into the Word and teach them and saturate your home, to have it be a holy sanctuary, not a breeding ground for Satan. So act on that, God’s will. Get that line of sight with Him. You’re supposed to be in the Word, broken before Him. Get that eyesight back on. The reason you’re distracted, groping, is because you’re not looking for God.
Oh, I knew it was going to be a hard one this morning. I almost chose the Proverbs message and took the easy way out.
And all of this, as we know it, leads to the prison of bondage. He was a grinder in the prison, barely hanging on, going through the motions. Have you ever been there? I know there are some of you here this morning, barely holding on, going through the motions. Often the man’s spiritual eyesight deeply affects the family. Did you know that some of the reasons (I talked to the men about this) that God might not be answering your prayers is because of how you treat your spouse? “Oh, but what about her?” See, you’ve already lost the battle. That’s not the question. “Husbands,” 1 Peter 3:7, “be considerate to your wives. Treat them with respect as the weaker partner.” People say, “Oh, weaker.” No, that just means valuable. Valuable—many commentators give this image of an expensive vase. You know, I’m just this Home Depot planter that God’s going to use. But treat her, treat them, as the weaker vessel. “And as heirs with you, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
Could it be that many prayers are hindered because we’ve got this John Wayne mentality in our home? What does this verse mean? It means to admire, to appreciate, the gift that God has given you, to listen to them, to elevate and hold them in high regard. Kids are watching, and our prayers are being hindered. This is a very important issue.
Now can I get to my favorite verse? Verse 22. “However…” Everyone’s going, “Oh, Shane, oh, the last forty minutes were so heavy.” However! However! I like when the Bible says “however,” because some other Scriptures say, “But God.” But they were destitute for destruction, but God. But the people were going to be slaughtered, but God. But here comes this massive army against us. What are we going to do? But God. Same thing with this word. However, however, Samson. However. What happens? “The hair of his head began to grow again.” He renewed his strength. He survived the anointing by waiting on God. Survive the anointing by waiting on God.
Now, many of you, I’ve done this strategically, but I didn’t talk much about prayer yet, but that is crucial to surviving the anointing. And that’s how you wait on God. If it would’ve been completely up to me, and I knew God was leading me, I would just not even preach this message, and just say, “We need to camp out in those last five songs.” In case you didn’t catch it, that’s worship. This is how I fight my battles. That’s how you fight your battles. I will tell you, as God is my witness, the only way I can really fight my battles is through prayer and worship and humility and obedience to the Word of God. That’s it. I don’t know how else anyone does it.
However, his strength began to grow back. And we know the verse: “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.” Are you dying spiritually this morning? Wait on God. What does that mean? Well, to be in a hurry is not waiting on God, to push things through is not waiting on God, and I truly believe that the state we live in, everybody is so busy, so when a hurry, the enemy is loving it. Maybe it’s me, but I hear it all the time. I invited a few dozen men outside of here to the men’s event. And how many of you were here and knew that they probably should’ve been here, should’ve heard the message? What’s the number one reason? “Oh, I wish I could but…” You fill in the blank. “Oh, man, I really wish I could but…” No, it’s just prioritizing. (Now, of course, not everybody can do things.) But we have to just wait on God and not be in a hurry. Remove things that are distracting you. Remove things that are distracting your family and wait on God.
And then verse 23: “Now the lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice. And they said, ‘Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy!’” Can you picture the scene? Samson, this mighty man of God, was known as a man of God. They said, “Go get him. Let’s make fun of him because our god Dagon has prevailed,” and God says, “No, your god Dagon has not prevailed. This is what I have allowed.” And they gave credit to their god Dagon.
It’s interesting, later on in the Bible you’ll read that the ark of the covenant was put in by this god Dagon, and Dagon kept falling over and breaking his head off the statue in the fall. Just the remnants of the Ten Commandments and the structure being there, just that, in the presence of Dagon, and he couldn’t even stand in that.
“So it happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, ‘Call for Samson, that he may perform for us.’ And they stationed him between the pillars” (v. 25). So remember, his eyes are gone. He has no eyes, so he’s just being let out to be made fun of. “Then Samson said to the [little boy] who brought him out, ‘Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them.’ Now the temple was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there—about three thousand men and women on the roof watching while Samson performed.” Let me stop here for a minute before I get to the closing.
Survive the anointing by knowing who you are even when your enemies taunt you. They were taunting him. They were poking fun at him. They were making fun of him. So never, never allow the taunting of your enemies to beat you down and to beat you up. Remember who you are, because that’s all they can do. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words, taunting, will never harm me.
The enemy is working in here, in your mind. The taunting of the enemy, even in victory, in defeat, you will be taunted. That’s one of his number one tactics, taunting and taunting. Nehemiah, who was building the wall. Sanballat and Tobiah came against him, taunting, taunting, taunting: “You’ll never finish this wall. Even if a fox crawls on this wall it’s going to fall down.” Taunting, taunting, taunting. Whenever you want you something for God, taunting, taunting, taunting. Just like Samson, do not let that sidetrack you from what God’s told you to do. Actually, come to expect it.
People, sometimes when I say this—I know it’s a little cocky, but sorry—but when they’re taunting me, I just say, “You’re just confirming what God’s called me to do.” Unbelievers or whatever, you’re just confirming what God has called me to do. If you’re not taunted, if the world loves you—have your ever thought about that? If the world loves you, if your work environment loves you, the school district loves you, all these unbelievers, they love you—can I quote Jesus? “If the world hates Me, they’re going to hate you.”
Now please don’t seek that out. I think we should be so loving and gracious at work that people say, “I don’t like what he believes, but I sure like that guy.” That needs to be our attitude. But you will be taunted: “You’re going to church again? Bible study again? Holy roller. What’s wrong with you? God’s going to allow this? What, God took your child? God took your this. God took your that. That’s your God?” Taunting, taunting, taunting, and it’s never-ending. So a child of God must be like Samson, knowing. I bet he felt his hair coming back, and he got a little excited.
Then verse 28: “Then Samson called to the Lord.” Oh wow. This hit me yesterday morning too. “Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, ‘Oh Lord, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!’” Survive the anointing by remembering that God called you. He sustained you. Remember that.
And the final point is surviving the anointing by knowing where to focus your strength. Know where to focus your strength. This is a prayer that God will hear. “God, remember me. Remember me. Strengthen me to fight again. Strengthen me to fight again.” And the little boy led him out. I remember a pastor twenty years ago said the condition of our families should motivate us, being led by a little child. “Daddy, Mommy, let me show you. Let me show you where to put your hands.” And when Samson put his hands on the pillar—and I feel like preaching for a minute, so just hold on—but the anointing of God came upon his life again, and he grabbed the pillars, he grabbed the strongholds of Satan, and he put his foot on the neck of the enemy, and he said, with all God’s might, “Remember me, God.” That’s all you need to pray: “Oh, God, remember me!” And he pushed with all his might, and the entire coliseum came down on the very people that were taunting him.
And the Bible says, “The dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.” He finished well. He knew where to put his hands on it. You need to know where to put your hands. You have spiritual authority. The weapons of our warfare are not these, it’s these. Oh God, remember me. Remember our family. It’s okay to say, “Remember our nation. Remember our nation that used to love Your Word and cherish who You were and feared You. God remember us.” That’s a prayer He will hear.
Through many dangers, trials, and snares, we’ve already come. ’Tis grace that’s brought us here this far, and it will be grace that leads us home. I can feel it so strongly that you need to put your hands on something and bring down some strongholds in your homes. “God, where do I put my hands? This needs to come down. God, show me.” And people say, “But, Shane, I don’t know how to pray.” Do you know how to say, “Remember me”? Do you know how to say, “Lord, help”?
Listen, I would love to be in a prayer meeting with a few men and women of God filled with God’s spirit, just saying, “Lord, remember us, help us,” than to be in some conservative prayer meeting where they’ve got it dialed in: “Oh God, oh, gracious Father, coming down from heaven, bestowing all spiritual gifts, and blessing us abundantly,” and they got it down with their words, but your heart is far from me. God just says, “Pray the prayer, ‘Remember me, Lord, help me.’” And I think when it’s all summed up, that’s how you survive the anointing. “Lord, help me.” Men don’t like to say that very easily, do we? We’ve got it figured out.
My wife just bought something for me to make French fries. No, I’m not reading the directions. I’m going to put a potato on the darn thing and make French fries. So, “Grrr—this thing is not working. Take it back.” My daughter says, “Well, the directions say cut it in half, cut the <?> off and make it fit perfectly in there, and then it works.” Oh. But we do that spiritually. I’ve got this. I’ve got this.